Some stunning upsets in conventional thinking about evolution have hit the news in rapid succession, threatening Darwin’s famous tree icon.
Under the rules of neo-Darwinism, mutations must be random, providing fodder for the blind processes of natural selection. But here’s a case where animals defy their own neo-Darwinism. More.
Yes, octopuses edit their genomes:
News from the University of Chicago’s Marine Biological Laboratory implies that cephalopods were wise to choose the RNA editing bargain. “Mutation is usually thought of as the currency of natural selection, and these animals are suppressing that to maintain recoding flexibility at the RNA level,” says biologist Joshua Rosenthal. The lab “identified tens of thousands of evolutionarily conserved RNA recoding sites in this class of cephalopods, called coleoid.” Evolutionarily conserved is a euphemism for stability — for non-evolution — over long periods of time. Those squid are smart, all right: they seem to be able to prevent Darwinian evolution!
True, cephalopods are smart. But they didn’t think up the idea of stasis. And it may well turn out that dumb and dumber creatures can turn off Darwinian evolution too. It might be a survival feature.
Academic Darwinism would be in much more trouble if evidence mattered the way it used to.
See also: Furry, feathery, and finny animals speak their minds
Stasis: When life goes on but evolution does not happen
What the fossils told us in their own words
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Cephalopod intelligence is real but does not extend to gene editing: